Work From Home: 10 Tips From Decorating To Organizing

Work From Home: 10 Tips From Decorating To Organizing
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Whether you just started an online business or working as a freelancer, there are lots of things you need to take care of if you're looking at high levels of productivity. It's important to decorate and design a home office that is comfortable and distraction-free. Creating a morning routine and setting weekly goals is also crucial, and embracing mono-tasking can make your life a whole lot easier.

Sometimes, even the smallest changes can make the biggest differences. Working as a freelancer web developer, blogger, and SEO expert from my little house for more than 15 years now has taught me many important things and mistakes that I’ve made, from being more productive and stopping procrastinating to staying organized all the time.

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by working remotely from your own home? It seems that there are too many different things that you’ll have to check every day when working as a freelancer, whatever the position you’re in. From checking your emails, social media messages, today’s schedule, and apps to handle your work and clients, to logging and checking the notifications for every service that you’ve been using, you can easily get lost or forget something.

Then there’s your home office, which you’ll have to keep organized, cleaned, and designed based on your needs and personal preferences. Apart from that, you’ll also have to stay productive and avoid procrastinating, and that’s by having a schedule that you strictly follow. And if that’s not enough, running your own company or being a freelancer means that you make enough money to pay for your rent, electricity, other bills, personal expenses, food, and even your taxes.

So yeah, you’ll have to handle those things too if you want to stay organized. And if you’re anything like me, too many things can cause clutter in your head. So working all of those years as a freelancer, I had to find the best ways to stay organized while working from home, and maybe, just maybe, some of them may be helpful to you.

1. Keep it simple; Start with your home office

Home Office Decoration with Plants and iMac
© Andreas Rasmussen on Unsplash.

I was helping my best friend the other day with her academic paper. When I visited her house, the first I noticed was her home office. Now, as a single mother raising her two kids while doing two jobs, one of which is a remote one, it’s not easy keeping things organized and being always on schedule. From her kid’s toys, academic papers, pens, and notebooks, to a mouse’s cable that she kept stomping with her foot, her home office was a total mess.

I never had kids, and I don’t know how difficult it must be to keep things organized when you have a human being to raise, let alone two kids. But what’s important is keeping your home office as clean as possible, and avoiding having anything that you do not necessarily need on top of it. You need to find and take the time to organize everything and make things as comfortable as possible. You’re going to spend a good amount of working hours on this home office after all.

I remember myself making the same mistakes over and over again; Instead of taking an hour of my time to make sure my home office was as comfortable as possible, I kept working in uncomfortable ways, with too much of my equipment and other things lying in different places on top of my office, just between my PC and my monitor. What a waste of office space, productivity, and discomfort.

It took me a few years to finally understand that a clean, organized, and minimally decorated office is always better for keeping my productivity high. If that’s the case for you, here’s what you should (probably) do; Open your schedule and add an hour or two within the week that you’ll spend for organizing and cleaning your home office, making everything a whole lot more comfortable.

2. Don’t work wearing your pajamas

Woman Working Wearing Pajamas
© Cottonbro Studio on Pexels.

If you’re like most people, then wearing your pajamas while working from home isn’t a great idea. While pajamas are comfortable, soft, and cozy, allowing you to move freely without feeling restricted by formal clothing, they may also be a factor in low productivity. There are many people, including myself, who find that changing into work attire helps them mentally transition into a better work mindset.

For some, dressing up can boost their productivity and focus, while others who may find themselves in unexpected video meetings may want to dress more professionally just to be ready at all times, reducing somewhat the stress they may have.

I once was tempted to work in my pajamas too, and I did it for a three-month period. I did it as a way to be more comfortable while working, and I haven’t had any video meetings that I should care about. For some reason, I noticed that I had higher productivity on days that included video meetings with clients, and that interested me because those were the days that I wasn’t wearing my pajamas. This is where I finally understood that wearing my pajamas while working wasn’t helping me to mentally transition into a better work mindset, so I started dressing up again.

Ultimately, it depends on your personal preference and the nature of your work. If you’re feeling productive and comfortable in your pajamas, go for it!

3. Let’s talk about windows and sounds

Bright Wooden Home Office With Window
© Spacejoy on Unsplash.

Do you know what’s worse than looking at a screen for more than 8 hours per day? Looking at the wall just behind it. If your home office is located in a place in your room where you see a wall just behind it, you should probably re-think the way you’ve decorated it. Here’s the thing; It’s already difficult – and sometimes lonely – to work for hours and hours in front of a screen, so having a window to watch outside and rest your eyes every few minutes is important for me.

You can even use the Pomodoro technique, which is a great way to remind yourself to take small breaks while focusing on one thing at a time. Leaving my window half open and having nature’s background noises coming in, it’s a great way to feel less “networked”, if that makes any sense. But if you’re currently unable to re-decorate your home office or you don’t even have any windows, to begin with, you can “play” more with the room’s lighting, add a few small flowers to keep things more “natural”, and even your favorite art.

Call me crazy, but when you work for so many years looking at a screen, nature is one of those things that you miss the most. Maybe that’s why I got into MTB biking in the first place, riding on any mountain I can find when I am not working, feeling more relaxed and closer to nature while being offline and away from all the digital clutter. So looking outside now and then, maybe listening to cars passing by, people talking, or even the birds singing, can make a big difference, as it did for me.

4. Avoid decorating your office with dark furniture

Home Office - Dark Furniture
© Chelsey Horne on Pexels.

Here it is folks, my biggest – and the first – mistake I’ve ever made with my home office decoration; Choosing dark furniture. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against dark furniture, but it’s not for everyone, and mostly not for individuals like myself who can easily feel lonely while working from home for a long period of time.

And that’s not all, if your home office is as small as mine (just a little bigger than a dog’s house really), choosing dark furniture can make the room look even smaller, which is crazy, but true. I also mentioned this particular topic when I wrote and published a guest blog post in Art Decoration Crafting, one of the most-known Greek blogs for decorating and discovering great DIY tips. Choosing the right colors for your home office is crucial, and that’s why I made sure it was the first thing that I mentioned in my guest post.

And while choosing the right colors for your home office is not an easy task, I find myself choosing whatever looks as natural as possible. Classic wooden colors are my first choice when it comes to decorating my home office, and I even got a new white desktop PC case from BeQuiet to make things even “brighter”.

5. Create a morning routine and set weekly goals

Weekly Review for Your Goals
© Isaac Smith on Unsplash.

Creating a morning routine that includes all the important tasks that you have to complete it’s important when working from home or running your own freelancing business. For example, I wake up every morning at 5:00 AM, turn on the music, and as I wait for my coffee machine to get me the first cup of pleasure, I get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. Then, opening my Notion Calendar and Notion to-do lists is the first thing I do, and until 8:00 AM, I avoid using my smartphone and checking my social media accounts.

From 5:20 to 8:00 AM every morning, I have the opportunity to work and focus on my personal projects, turn my ideas into reality, or even use those hours to improve my skills or learn new ones. It’s also a great routine that changes the way you sleep, making your days bigger while feeling healthier and more alive by getting to bed sooner. I’m also always ready to get to work because I have the time to both keep working on what truly matters to me and get organized before my clients start sending me messages and my morning meetings start.

Now, waking up at 5:00 AM is not for everyone, but adjusting your hours may be a good way of improving the way you work, and even increasing your productivity.

Setting weekly goals is also crucial for freelancers and entrepreneurs, as it helps them better acknowledge the strengths of their process. Everyone has different goals, but you could start from smaller ones such as getting a new client every week to getting 5 new clients per week. From making your $100 to creating a passive income of $2,000 per month, and from starting your own project to transforming your hobbies and passions into a startup business, there are many goals you can set.

A lot of people set daily goals too, but with all the clutter that I experience every day, having daily goals isn’t a priority for me right now, so weekly goals personally work better for me. But you may want to change that to daily, monthly, and even yearly goals.

6. Stop multi-tasking and embrace mono-tasking

Stop multi-tasking and embrace mono-tasking
© Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

I don’t know who told me that multi-tasking was a good idea, but for many years I kept finding myself trying to handle more things than I actually could, all at the same time. I kept getting exhausted fast, I felt my productivity was hitting rock bottom, and I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was at completing my daily tasks. This is where I started to research how successful people who owned many companies were able to handle everything without losing their minds, and that’s how I found out about mono-tasking.

Focusing on one thing at a time is a great way to complete every task faster and without making any mistakes or forgetting something important. Doing so means that you should stay away from any distractions, such as social media notifications, replying to emails, and answering non-important calls. As I mentioned earlier, using a specific technique may also help you, including Pomodoro (and there are apps for it too, but you can just use your alarm clock to handle the breaks).

When I started focusing on a specific task every time, taking small breaks every now and then, and without working on something straight for hours, I actually saw an increase in my productivity. Most of my clients were also happier with that change, knowing I was focusing on resolving any issue without getting distracted from other tasks and the plethora of notifications I get every few minutes.

7. Stop using too many apps

Opinion - There are too many apps doing the same thing
© Adrien on Unsplash.

Seriously, what’s up with all those apps that are similar and literally doing the same thing? I mean, there are hundreds of apps for keeping notes, organizing your schedule, checking your emails, staying in contact with people, and even chatting. While I did talk about this matter in my previews blog post [Opinion: There are too many apps doing the same thing], from which I recommended a few apps that can handle many different things at once, reducing the number of apps you’re using will increase your productivity and device’s performance.

There’s no need to check your Gmail, Outlook, and IMAP accounts from different websites or apps, just install and connect all your email accounts to Microsoft’s Outlook or Mozilla’s Thunderbird app. There’s no need to use different apps for keeping notes, organizing your schedule and workflow, and having in one place all your clients, as there are tools such as Notion and Notion Calendar that can handle everything in a single environment. And yes, you can use the tool to share specific pages or notes, create group workspaces for your clients or projects, and much more.

8. Upgrade your home office decor with a Standing Desk

Here’s the thing; I’m almost 30 years old, and a few years ago, I had back pains. That was the cause of working remotely as a freelancer, staying in a chair for many hours on a daily basis without getting the necessary exercise. So I started Hard-Trail and Enduro mountain biking and added quick home exercises using the body’s weight as my morning routine. It’s been three years now and I feel no back pains – or any pain whatsoever – and I now have the strength to keep my waist straight while I sit and work for many hours.

Decorating your home office with ergonomic equipment is a great way to make your work days even healthier. By allowing you to pull them up and back down, those ergonomic home office standing desks provide more flexibility, comfort, and a healthier way of working. And no, standing desks aren’t that cheap, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good one either.

1. Best Low-Cost Standing Desk

VIVO Electric Height Adjustable 71 x 30 inch Memory Stand Up Desk
VIVO Electric Height Adjustable

Finding a healthy balance between sitting and standing throughout the long workday is made possible with electric height adjustment. The spacious tabletop provides room for dual monitor setups and important supplies so you can organize your workspace to fit your preferred layout.

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Even if you exercise daily, having a standing desk is crucial when it comes to working non-stop for hours. Just make sure you get the right one for your needs, and maybe one with small but strong wheels so you can move it from one place to another with ease.

9. Set boundaries with your friends and family

Woman Working On A iMac
© Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

There were many talks with me and my friend about what counts as important and what’s not. Although she didn’t have to, she explained to me how some of her closest friends couldn’t understand how important it was for her not to get distracted during her work hours. Yet again, they didn’t respect her wishes, making it harder for her to say no.

I felt that, because I also experienced the same issue with my own friends, but after having a straight talk with each other, I explained why it was so important for me to keep working on my projects and not get distracted from them. The best of them didn’t ask any questions and respected my wishes, while others continued with the same attitude, for which I had a few special extra boundaries in my pocket.

If you’re living with a roommate, family, or siblings, set a boundary that lets others in the household know that the area you designate as your home office is off-limits when you’re working.

10. Feel less lonely by listening to the radio

TuneIn Radio Stations
Discovering new radio stations using the TuneIn.com website.

Last but not least, there’s loneliness. A lot of creative people that I had the pleasure of meeting told me that in one way or another, they all felt lonely at some point working from home as freelancers. The only people who didn’t experience the same problems were the ones who were sharing their homes with one or more people. And because not everyone has kids, family, or a roommate, they may feel lonely at some point, and that’s okay.

One way I was solving this issue for many years was by visiting cafe stores and working from there with my laptop. Not every day, but at least twice a week, just to break my usual work-from-home routine. Once I gave my laptop to my little brother, who started his own travel blog (Travel Brothers) with me (sorry folks, it’s in Greek), I had to spend all my time working from my desktop PC, which was the only device that could handle my kind of work, and things started getting weird once again – or at least, until I added radio into my life.

Listening to the radio is not just crucial for me, it’s a way of living nowadays. It helps me relax, get updated on all trend topics that I have no time to read or watch, and have a few laughs during my work hours. While my favorite radio stations are explicitly in Greek language, such as the Proino Frikase, which is by far my favorite broadcast, there are millions of available radio stations that you can tune in and organize them into different sections, and it should only take you a couple of minutes of your time.

How do you stay organized and keep your productivity up? Have you made any specific changes to your home office that made your work life a bit easier?

I’d love to know any tips and tricks, and you can share them all in the comments section below!

Panos Sakalakis

Meet Panos Sakalakis, a web wizard, blogging buff, podcasting pro, and SEO sorcerer with over 15 years of enchanting experience. When he's not weaving digital spells with his keyboard, you'll likely spot him conquering mountain trails with his trusty Hard-Trail MTB bike, in hot pursuit of the ultimate adrenaline rush and the perfect blog post inspiration.

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